Monday, October 30, 2006

Songs and Saints

Another busy weekend. On Saturday, I had to do some homeworks for my Spanish class. Many, many regular and irregular verbs... I was so tired that I took a nap and woke up in the night, ready for a drink. I called Fer and we met at 1am with his novio and some other friends and we hit a discotheque called Long Play with two stages and 5 DJs. It was a really nice place (it's good to know these places, so I am trying to remember as many of them as I can) and then, around 3am we went to a lesbian bar for some rock en español. I had to wake up quite early because we were supposed to meat at 10am at Plaza de Castilla and go for a trip to Ávila. That city is truly magical. Situated at the highest altitude of all Spanish provincial capitals, the entire Old city is walled with 88 towers and the walls are more than 2.5km long and 12m tall. They also marked the line between the wild world and civilization or between the power and domination and the poor countryside. To build the walls, numerous materials were used, including the pieces from the nearby Roman necropolis like urns and steles with inscriptions. The booklet about this UNESCO World Heritage Site says that the style of their construction suggests somebody with Arabic building skills, like the mudéjares, the Muslims that were permitted to live in Spain under Christian rule. The city of Ávila is also known for the famous saint, Santa Teresa, as she spent 30 years there. The booklet was surprisingly honest, they said that the convent where she lived was not attractive for its aesthetic (oh, these Spaniards are so polite, LOL) but the trail the saint left behind. Well... I saw a statue of Teresa in the wall of the church and she looked like she had 300 kilos of fresh weight and apparently, she levitated... These saints are just so funny... and they like galletas a lot.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Brass in pocket

Ha! There is a guy in my institute that is so intriguing that I have to write something about him. I don't know his name and it's really hard to find out. I meet him every Monday and Wednesday on my way back from the Humatinities building where I take my Spanish class. Everytime I say "¡Hola!" to him, but he never responds, like a star. Then, I often see him going to the gym (yes, he looks like he spends more time in the gym than at the bench). I asked Govi about him when we saw him after the language class (she is taking a French class at the same time as my Spanish) and she told me: "Oh, that's the one that everybody finds extremely attractive (LOL, yes, including me), but he is so arrogant!". Yes, sweetie, I can see that he is arrogant but that makes him so interesting. I hope I will find out something about him.
UPDATE (30/10): He sports a new haircut, a mohawk, yes, my friends... life is tough.
UPDATE (2/11): He works in the structural biology department.
UPDATE (27/11): He lives close to my house, I just met him in EROSKI!
UPDATE (29/11): He is queer.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

La tarjeta sanitaria

I received a temporary health care card! I am happy! After a little accident we had in Bizkaia, when I realized that if something happened to me, I couldn't show any proof that I actually had a health insurance, I finally found out that things were not as simple in Spain as I thought. At first, I had to go to the branch of the City Council that my streets belongs to. Then, having my "padron" in hands, I had to go to the "Centro de Salud", again, only the one that my streets geographically belongs to. Well, while getting the "padron" was a piece of cake, the "tarjeta sanitaria" took about three hours of waiting in an ugly hospital-like place. No pain no gain.

Monday, October 23, 2006

El Guiri Verdadero

It rains and rains here... On Friday, a drink with Nacho from 317, it was his last day at work. We met in the vinoteca on Plaza de Santa Ana (Bruce, Eva, Andrea and Jose Manuel) and later we hit a funny place called La Boca del Lobo. We had a great time, great music, just one little thing: there was a latino guy with gigantic ears who started to strip on the stage in the middle of the night. Kind of gross, fortunately his pants stayed on, LOL. On Saturday I went to see Children of men to the Ideal Cinemas close to Sol, but I am not very impressed. They show movies in original version with subtitles (V.O.S.), but the screen and sound is so crappy, well... better than nothing I guess. Then Govi called me to go for dinner with her friend from Texas. OMG, that guy, a medical doctor, was so cute! My gaydar was functional and later we hit a bar in Chueca together and his friends. I haven't been to that bar before but I did like it a lot!

Monday, October 16, 2006

From Picos de Europa to Bilbo

A Long weekend in Spain, on Thursday we celebrated "El Dia de la Hispanidad" or the Virgin "Del Pilar", depending whether you stay in Madrid or in Zaragoza. In Madrid, there was a big military parade on the Plaza de Colón - but I just heard about it in my Spanish class because we made a trip to the North of Spain. Originally, we thought we would spent that long weekend in Asturias, apparently the prettiest part of Spain, approx. 12 people, 3 cars etc. At the end, though, it was just five of us, so we fit in one car. In addition, it wasn't a trip to Asturias but to Cantabria and Euskadi (Pais Vasco). We were leaving on Thursday and when I was approaching my metro station in the morning, there were already crowds leaving the subway towards Paseo de la Castellana, because I live very close to the Plaza de Colón. On the way there, we made a quick stop in Burgos, an amazing old city with a beautiful cathedral. In Cantabria, we stayed in a house of Enrique's grandparents, but Enrique was in Michigan last week, so it was just his wife and kids (actually many, many kids, because there was another family visiting Esther). You can see the royal side of my boss on a picture called La Casona, it's the house we stayed in. On Friday, we made a trip to the eastern part of Cantabria, first we visited Santillana del Mar, which is known as "The village of three lies": it is not a holy city ("santa"), it's not flat ("llana") and it has no sea ("mar"). Very close to Santillana you can find the famous Altamira cave. Then we visited Comillas, a cute city close to the sea, famous for its castle, a big university and a house designed by Gaudi. The last place we visited on Friday was a city of San Vicente de la Barquera, a harbor that is close to the border with Asturias, so we could see Picos de Europa. On Saturday, we hit the western part of Cantabria and also the eastern part of Euskadi, a province called Bizkaia. In Cantabria, we visited Castro Urdiales, a holiday town with a beautiful cathedral and a Castle-Lighthouse. Then, crossing the border with Bizkaia, we realized how different were the provinces in Spain, it was like travelling in time: from the sleepy Cantabria, full of sheep and cows and cute little towns directly into a book written by Jules Verne about the industrialized Bizkaia. No doubt the Basques are so proud! In Bilbo, we made a short trip to see the Guggenheim Museo and then we had a wonderful lunch in the old city as the Basque chefs are known to be the best in Spain. On the way back, already in the night, we made a stop in Elantxobe, a fishermen's village that has such a small square that it has been motorized so the bus can turn around. By the way, the names in Euskara sound so good! Galdakaoko, for instance. Pure gems. Well, have a look at my Picasa website.

Monday, October 9, 2006


In contrast to the last weekend, a quiet one this time. A week ago, on Saturday, I went out with Antonio and Jose Manuel. At first, we we went to a music-kinda bar called Bar&Co. on a street named Barcó, what a funny name, huh? I was drinking gin'n'tonics with them, a big mistake. Then I needed more money and what a mess! The ATMs we saw on the way to another bar (cajeros in Castellano) were out of money, these Spanish people really drink like crazy. Well, then we finally spotted one ATM with money, but as soon as I put my only card inside, the keyboard became unresponsive and I was worried that I would end up without my card. Fortunately, after 5 minutes of desperation, the cajero popped the card out. Finally, one ATM was working and having a 50€ bill, I was ready to get fucked up. Well, I thought so... the bill was fake, as the bartender told me. I used the bill the day after in a restaurant, without any problem. Still don't know whether it was fake or not... On Sunday, I woke up at noon with a terrible headache, no B12 to reach... I promised to Govi that I would go to the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum with her. I sent her a text message whether she REALLY wanted to go and apparently yes, so I had to drink 2 double espressos to be responsive and we hit the museum. What a wonderful place! So far, the best museum in Madrid for me. Very cute inside, the walls are painted in a pink/orange colour, a wonderful collection of paintings, a nice museum store (I couldn't resist to get a Renoir poster for my house), such a gem.
The week was OK, I took a classification test for a Spanish class at the university on Monday and on Friday I found out that I was accepted to a B1 (español básico uno) class, which means that nobody's Spanish could be worse than mine, LOL. The classes start on Monday! Maite from my lab gave me three months to learn Spanish, well... we'll see.
Yesterday, there was a lunch BBQ in the house of Enrique's parents that were out of town. I posted some pictures on my Picasa's web site, so you can check out my wonderful "El Jefe", his family and also bunch of people from the institute. Marco, Maite and Teresa work with me, the rest are mostly people from the 317 lab. Enrique, Miguel, Marco and Andrea did a good job, the meat was wonderful. Then a LOT of drinks, of course, I am in Spain now. That house was close to a subway station, so everybody could drink without a limit, it's a good thing to have a public transportation here.